The farthest I ever ran was when a street dog chased me when I was a kid. I couldn’t remember how long I ran that day but I kept running till I was out of my breath. Fear of not getting myself bitten was my only motivation to run that day. Back in my school days, I used to participate in athletic events most of which would be of smaller distance like 100 or 200 meters. I never got an opportunity to run longer distance. Over all these years, I knew running as a sport or an exercise that could help you stay fit but I never knew that running could be so adventurous until I participated in The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2015.
Originally scheduled to kick off during December 2015, this event was postponed because Chennai was undergoing one of the worst experience in its history “The Chennai Floods”. The whole of Chennai was in distress and it took almost 3 weeks for the city to recover back. The Marathon event was then rescheduled to Jan 31st 2016. The aftermath of the floods hadn’t brought down the strength of the Chennaites completely. The event was back on track with positive vibes. The bibs were distributed a week before the event and it was all set for the start of the event.
Having no prior experience in running a marathon, I had no clue how to get prepared for it. I had registered myself for the 10km category. It was the shortest distance followed by half marathon(21km) and full marathon(42km). There were training sessions conducted by the volunteers for all the registered runners to make the runners complete their run. But then I was lazy enough that I didn’t even attend those training sessions. In fact I didn’t practice anything before the event (a huge mistake) and even bought my running shoes just before the day of the event :(. But I had a blind confidence that I could complete it. I set myself a target of completing the run in 1hr time.
On the event day, I had to travel 30km from my home to the starting point. So I got up early at 4am and started early on my bike. The event was scheduled at 7am and everyone was asked to report at the starting point by 6.30am. The early morning empty roads of Chennai made it easier for me to drive a bit faster. I reached there earlier than I expected, by 6am. After parking my vehicle and depositing my goodie bag at the baggage counter, I made my way towards the start point. Thousands of runners were gathered already at the starting point. Most of them were with their friends. There was some Kerala music performed by a group of professionals near the starting point. The sound of their drum beats teared apart the atmosphere over there. The enthusiasm and energy was so energizing. I pushed myself into the crowd. I managed to find few of my colleagues already present there. Few of my friends were still on their way to the starting point. I ended the call after checking on them. The sky started turning red in the eastern horizon as the sun rays shone us a beautiful good morning :). The count down was on and we started to run.
The early morning breeze against my face was soothing. The initial few hundred meters was very crowded. I was looking at the runners as I ran past few of them to get some empty space. I could see runners from all age group. After a few minutes the crowd reduced and people started to shift lanes. The slower ones moved to the left making way for the faster runners on the right. I was running zig zag between the gaps like all the newbies did . My legs started feeling the abnormality from my daily routine. My calf muscles started tightening which I could feel in every step of my run. I didn’t want to stop that early so I slowed down a little bit. I looked at and kept targets that I could see to motivate myself to run till that point. “That dustbin over there. I’ll run till that point. Run a little more”, I said to myself as I progressed. Although the pain in my legs were increasing, I felt great that I was running pretty good. After some time my eyes were wandering on either side of the road and my mind was trying to do a rough math, calculating how much distance I had crossed. A sign board to my left said 4km.
I realized I had started walking like most of them around me. The number of people running was very less now. Most of the runners in 10km category were beginners. So I wasn’t feeling embarrassed that I was walking. 😛 There were stalls along the route providing water and banana slices for refreshment. I hadn’t eaten anything from morning(another big mistake). I stopped at a stall to grab a cup of water. The water felt tasty probably because my taste buds had nothing from the previous night till that point. It gave me instant energy and I continued running. The next few kilometers that I crossed was combination of running and walking. My pace had reduced from what I had started. I was very exhausted. There were pacers running along with us and volunteers on cycles encouraging us to continue running and not to stop or walk.
An old man probably in his 70’s ran past me. He was smiling and running confident. His attitude inspired me and most of the runners there. I also saw a physically disabled person on wheelchair moving ahead. We cheered them to keep them motivated. But the real ones motivated there were us. The last couple of kilometers never seemed like it was ending. I was so tired that I couldn’t feel the pain in my legs anymore. I wanted to reach the finish point badly. The increasing number of onlookers on the either side of the road indicated that I was almost there. “Last 500 meters. Keep up and run”, I could hear people shouting and encouraging us as we made towards the final stretch. The sight of the finish point made my mind relaxed and I felt the joy of accomplishing something incredible. Finally !! I did it 🙂
It actually took 1hr 30 min to complete my run. Not a great one but it was something for a first time runner without any practise.
Got this one! Just for the record 🙂
Here are a few moments with my friends after completing the run! It was the 1st time experience for all of us.
I encourage everyone to make an attempt for it.
Run for a great experience. Run for a life. Run for a Cause. Happy running !! 🙂